New research shows park prescriptions—a physician’s recommendation to spend time outdoors—can help reduce stress among low-income patients. These findings are among the latest in a growing body of work examining nature’s impact on our physical and mental health.

In Oakland, California, rolling grass-covered slopes of the Oakland Hills give way to a grid of city streets that spill to the coast and the calm deep blue water of the bay. On one city block, there are shops and restaurants and trees. A weekly farmer’s market at Jack London Square draws a lively crowd. A few blocks away, a family of five asks for change to fill their gas tank and dilapidated tents are pitched under a freeway overpass.

Away from sirens and cracked concrete sidewalks, just 20 or 30 minutes outside of downtown, there are nine parks, preserves and recreational areas with lakes and trails, and more than 70 parks in the greater East Bay Regional Park District. Oak trees and chaparral are scattered on the hillside; eagles and hawks soar.

For some, it takes considerable effort, time and resources to reach the region’s natural spaces. Still, even with the economic and geographic divide, a group of low-income residents in Oakland is experiencing the outdoors with a prescription from their physician.

Read the full story online at REI Co-op Journal.

Monica Prelle © 2023 All Rights Reserved